Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Is anything in this article factually incorrect? Please submit a comment.

Printer-friendly page

Redeemer Democrats

by Robert F. Durden, 2006

See also: Bourbons

Zebulon B. Vance (1830-1894)"Redeemer Democrats" was a self-imposed term used by nineteenth-century southern Democrats fond of talking about "redeeming" their states from the alleged "misrule and corruption" wrought by Republican carpetbaggers, scalawags, and their black allies who assumed control as Congressional Reconstruction began in 1867-68. The Ku Klux Klan and similar domestic terrorist organizations played an important role in helping the Democrats reach their goal, which was done at different times between 1869 and 1877 in various southern states. Many Redeemer Democrats, or Redeemers, such as Zebulon B. Vance of North Carolina and Wade Hampton of South Carolina, had been Whigs before the Civil War. During Reconstruction, Democrats (temporarily also called "Conservatives") sought to bring as many voters as possible into "the white man's party." By the 1890s the Redeemers lost control of the southern Democratic Party, and more rabid racists, intent on disfranchising black voters, gained control of the party and of the governments of southern states.




C. Vann Woodward, Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (repr., 1971).

Image Credit:

"N.53.15.544  Zebulon B. Vance (1830-1894)." Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Division of Archives & History. Available from (accessed May 4, 2012).



i love this site


Awesome! I learned a lot!


Thank you for the NCpedia. I had not heard of the term "redeemer" as used in nineteenth century post reconstruction political thought: I googled the term and, voila, it sent me to your web site.
Thank you.
Jim Robinson

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at